Batoids, or rays, utilize unique forms of locomotion that may offer more efficient techniques of motorized propulsion in various marine environments. We present a novel biomimetic engineering design and assembly of a stingray-inspired robot swimmer. The robots locomotion mimics the Dasyatis americana, or southern stingray, whose distinction among rays is its intermediate motion, characterized by sweeping strokes that propagate between 1/2-1 wavelength of the fin profile in the posterior direction. Though oscillatory (<;1/2 wavelength) and undulatory (> wavelengths) ray-based robots have been created, this project demonstrates new engineering possibilities in what is, to the best of our knowledge, the first intermediately propelled batoid-based robot. The robots fins were made of silicone rubber, cast in a 3-D printed mold, with wingspan of 42 cm (1/2 - 1/5 scale for males and females, respectively, scale of model organism). Two anteriorly placed servomotors per fin were used, all controlled by one wirelessly enabled Arduino microcontroller. Each servomotor oscillated a flexible rod with cylindrical joint, whose frequency, speed, and front-back phase delay were user-programmed over wireless connection. During free-swimming tests, the fin profile developed about 0.8 wavelength, qualifying for successful mimicry of its biological inspiration. The robot satisfactorily maintained straight-line motion, reaching average peak velocity of 9.4±1.0 cm/s (0.27−0.03 body lengths/second) at its optimum flapping frequency of 1.4 Hz. This is in the same order of magnitude of speed normalized to body length achieved by others in two recent batoid-based projects. In summary, our robot performed intermediate stingray locomotion with relatively fewer components, which reveals robust potential for innovation of the simple intermediate batoid-based robot swimmer.
Lincoln Neely, Jack Gaiennie, Nick Noble, and Jonathan C. Erickson, "Stingray-inspired robot with simply actuated intermediate motion," Proc. SPIE 9797, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2016, 97970U (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 22, 2016; Published: 22 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2219494.
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